Atlantis Online
December 12, 2019, 01:34:25 pm
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Scientists to drill beneath oceans
http://atlantisonline.smfforfree2.com/index.php/topic,8063.0.html
 
  Home Help Arcade Gallery Links Staff List Calendar Login Register  

Digs, Discovery and Disaster: A History of Archaeology at Stonehenge

Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Digs, Discovery and Disaster: A History of Archaeology at Stonehenge  (Read 207 times)
Bianca Markos
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4495



« on: January 01, 2010, 07:52:06 am »


Digs, Discovery and Disaster: A History of Archaeology at Stonehenge
Submitted by Sean Williams on Sun, 07/12/2009 - 18:03

Stonehenge leaps out from its West Country surroundings like Liberace in a dole queue, so itís no surprise that Britainís grandest prehistoric monument has been the focus of a myriad projects since the dawn of archaeology. So what is Stonehengeís archaeological history? And what light has centuries of excavation shed on the enigmatic treasure?

Aubrey Discovers (Some of) The Aubrey Holes

Stonehengeís recorded archaeological history begins at the turn of the 17th century, with a small dig carried out by the pre-eminent physician William Harvey. Yet as much as Harvey was a pioneer of medicine, he was hardly a dab hand at archaeology, and few conclusions were drawn from his work. It would take another fifty or so years until, in 1663, revered antiquarian John Aubrey was commissioned by King Charles II to survey Stonehengeís vicinity. His results would be startling, if not entirely accurate. Aubrey found 5 depressions dotted around the central complex, which would later, along with the ones he missed, become known as Aubrey Holes.
Report Spam   Logged

Bianca Markos
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4495



« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2010, 07:52:33 am »

Aubrey also claimed that the site was a Druid temple, transforming Stonehenge from a forgotten relic into an enigmatic national icon. It was also the beginning of the druidic obsession with the site, Aubrey’s work shooting it into vogue and making a myriad Druid priests suddenly realise that, yes, Stonehenge is our spiritual home. This, of course, continues to this day – with thousands of pagan partygoers celebrating the monument every solstice.

Aubrey’s excavations may have been hit-and-miss, but his high profile findings sparked public and professional interest in Stonehenge. Projects were undertaken in his wake, with many vying to make their name synonymous with the site. Yet it would take until the mid-18th century for another antiquarian to stamp his seal on the stones, in the form of Cambridge old boy William Stukeley. Stukeley had a flair for publicity and a fondness for mysticism, and wasted no time in kicking off an inspiring career which saw him tackle such far-ranging subjects as debunking the Robin Hood story, writing music for the flute and producing treatises on earthquakes and medicine.

Yet during all this, Stukeley found the time to print his indelible mark on Stonehenge, making the first modern link between the site and the midsummer sun. It was Stukeley who, in two books published in 1740 and 1743, first noticed the horseshoe shape of Stonehenge’s inner circle nodding towards the solstices. Yet he would be another to blot his archaeological crib sheet with a plethora of pagan ponderings. Stukeley saw spirituality in every ancient monument, and believed Stonehenge to be a circle through which passed a gigantic serpent, visible as a series of raised mounds on the local landscape.
Report Spam   Logged
Bianca Markos
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4495



« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2010, 07:53:10 am »



Aubrey was the first to make links between Stonehenge and its Druid fans
Report Spam   Logged
Bianca Markos
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4495



« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2010, 07:53:45 am »

Human Remains

Over 150 years had passed since John Aubrey first surveyed Stonehenge, and the prehistoric wonder had grown into a symbol of national pride; a rare glimpse into Britain’s prehistoric past. It was the turn of the 19th century, and time for another aristocrat to etch his name on the megalith’s history books. Enter banking heir Richard C. Hoare, who travelled to Wiltshire with friend and archaeologist William Cunnington in 1808. The pair would carry out a huge number of digs in and around Stonehenge, throwing up two groundbreaking discoveries around the famous monument. Whilst digging around a prostrate slaughter stone, Hoare and Cunnington asserted that the giant stone had, in fact, once stood up. This allowed them to draw conclusions about Stonehenge’s original layout, as well as putting it in context with the surrounding area. As Hoare and Cunnington worked, they were careful to preserve their posterity in the form of metal tokens deposited in each hole excavated.

It would be Stonehenge’s surrounding area which would, incidentally, give the illustrious pair their biggest breakthrough when, whilst digging in a round barrow some 1km southwest of the site (‘Bush Barrow’), they unearthed the remains of a human man, resplendent with a gold belt fastener, gold breastplate, mace head, two daggers, and a flanged axe. The body is now widely perceived to be that of a prominent local chieftain, with the find leading to modern conclusions that Stonehenge may have been some sort of prehistoric palace or temple, reserved for only the highest of officials in its local hierarchy.
Report Spam   Logged
Bianca Markos
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4495



« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2010, 07:54:25 am »

A Much-Needed Facelift

the beginning of the 20th century, archaeology at Stonehenge had reached breaking point. The once-untouched treasure had become a building site, besieged by over-zealous antiquaries desperate to use its prestige to make a name for themselves. The final, heavy straw came when sarsen number 22 came crashing from its plot, undercut from years of eager digging – and took a lintel down with it. An outcry ensued; the British public enraged that their beloved megalith was falling into disrepair.

Stonehenge’s private owner, Edward Antrobus, was beset by appeals to safeguard the site from further damage, and to attempt a restoration project. It took the hallowed word of Sir William Flinders Petrie in The Times to give Antrobus the necessary kick up the backside, who in turn employed the ‘Father of Japanese Archaeology’ William Gowland to put right the wrongs of the past few decades.
Report Spam   Logged
Bianca Markos
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4495



« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2010, 07:54:57 am »

Gowland was typical of the era’s ‘archaeologists’, in that he had no particular background in archaeology. Indeed, he got the nod from Antrobus purely on the name he had made for himself in Japan, where, while he was commissioned as an expert on ore refinery, he had excavated a number of burial mounds in the central regions of Honshu. Still, despite reservations Gowland produced some of the finest detailed surveys of Stonehenge, digging carefully around many of the endangered stones and concluding that antler picks were used to sculpt many of the stones by virtue of tiny chip marks. True to his task, Gowland did make a concerted attempt at resetting some of the stones which were perilously close to sarsen 22’s fate. However, in concreting sarsen 56 Gowland did manage to move it half a metre.

The next few decades saw a glut of restorations, thanks in part to Gowland’s well-known work, but also to Howard Carter’s monumental excavations in Egypt. Private ownership ceased, with Stonehenge instead falling into the hands of the National Trust – who have since mollycoddled the site from both visitors and archaeologists, to varying degrees of contempt. A 1920 assignment by William Hawley (Stonehenge seems to have attracted an unnatural number of Williams through the ages – an indication of its spirituality, perhaps?) excavated the bases of six more sarsens much more scientifically, locating several items of interest including the outer Y and Z holes, further putting Stonehenge in a wider context. Incidentally, Hawley also unearthed a bottle of port left at the site by William Cunnington over a century earlier, in an episode both delightfully British and yet tragically unprofessional. Further work in the 1940s and 50s uncovered human artefacts such as axes, daggers and other objects.
Report Spam   Logged
Bianca Markos
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4495



« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2010, 07:55:18 am »



The early 20th century saw valiant, if sometimes haphazard, attempts to restore the ailing stones
Report Spam   Logged
Bianca Markos
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4495



« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2010, 07:58:09 am »

Modern Work

As the 20th century rolled into its second half, excavation projects at Stonehenge began to slow somewhat, and 1964 would see the stone circle explored for the last time until 2008. Most work was thus carried out in the immediate vicinity of the famous site, with several large finds dominating the era. National Heritage began work on a controversial car park in 1966, before which Faith and Lance Vatcher examined its roots. They found evidence of Mesolithic potholes dating as far back as 8,000 BC – 5,000 years before Stonehenge was built. This sparked a newfound vigour for the excavation of Stonehenge’s locality.

The 1980s saw the Stonehenge Environs Project, headed by Julian Richards, studying the wider region around Stonehenge. This mission unearthed such features as Lesser Cursus, Coneybury Henge and other smaller sites. An accidental building project close to the Heel Stone also uncovered another stone hole next to it. This not only threw open the idea of the Heel Stone as the marker for a prehistoric calendar, but also appeared to nullify arguments that the Heel Stone didn’t line up perfectly with the midsummer sun.

Report Spam   Logged
Bianca Markos
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4495



« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2010, 07:59:27 am »

21st Century Boy

The latter half of the 20th century focused on Stonehenge's context within its location
It would not be until 2002, however, that an excavation project at the monument would throw up a discovery that would truly catch the public’s imagination. The ‘Amesbury Archer’, an early Bronze Age man found three miles from Stonehenge, was found to have been buried with the greatest stash of treasure ever seen in Britain – including the first ever gold artefacts in the country. His being contemporary to the monument, and the vast wealth of his burial, has led some to conclude he was a king, perhaps that of Stonehenge itself. Indeed the discovery threw open the debate as to the provenance of British tribes altogether: was the Amesbury Archer from central Europe? Certainly his possessions suggested so, though no conclusions have been drawn since his appearance.

2003-2008 saw the Stonehenge Riverside Project, a collaboration between several UK universities, searching the landmark and its locality for any links. They found direct links between the henge and nearby Durrington Walls – which is believed to have been a ritual site which fell into disrepair with the advent of Stonehenge’s stone circle. A subsequent dig in 2008 saw archaeologists given access to the inner circle for the first time in 44 years. The mission to solve the mysteries of Stonehenge continues to this day, and the good news is that they’re regulated a hell of a lot more than the carefree days of Hoare, Cunnington and co. Archaeology at Stonehenge may have been going on for centuries, but the task may only just have begun.

http://heritage-key.com/britain/digs-discovery-and-disaster-history-archaeology-stonehenge
Report Spam   Logged
Bianca Markos
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 4495



« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2010, 08:00:28 am »

About The AuthorSean WilliamsSean Williams

Sean is an English Literature graduate, who currently works as a writer and journalist in London. He enjoys ancient history, theatre and sport. He does not enjoy Big Brother.
Report Spam   Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum
Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy